A return to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo has been a romantic and popular narrative almost from the moment he left for Real Madrid.
With the Portuguese skipper expressing his desire to leave the Spanish capital following allegations of tax evasion, the path back to Manchester has been paved yet again.
The unpredictable nature of the transfer window means that the move could well come to fruition (finally) and it definitely has a now-or-never feel to it.
However, there’s also plenty to suggest that the switch wouldn’t be in the best interests of both parties.
Here’s seven reasons why a return to Manchester for CR7 shouldn’t be on the cards.
From 2006 to 2009, Ronaldo delivered three years of magical performances in a United shirt. He quickly assumed legendary status among the Old Trafford faithful with the stadium seemly holding its collective breath every time the Portuguese began striding forward with the ball.
If he were to return now, he simply wouldn’t be the player who thrilled spectators with his quick feet and outrageous flair.
He’s still a goal-scoring machine but he needs a thriving supply line to flourish and wouldn’t retain the kind of aura he previously enjoyed.
The fact that he left the club when he had the world at his feet has always left United fans enamoured with the idea of what could have been.
It’s that fantasy which keeps Ronaldo on a pedestal in the hearts and minds of the Old Trafford faithful. He couldn’t possibly live up to the standards he’s been elevated to on his return.
He’d be better served staying away from the red half of Manchester and preserving his reputation. Always leave them wanting more.
Ronaldo' United debut. Doubt anyone in OT could stay seated when he got the ball. Now on his way to 5th Ballon d'Or?pic.twitter.com/D3eZs0vYfP— Brendon Netto (@BrendonNetto) June 7, 2017
The consistency with which Ronaldo has performed at the peak of his powers for the last 10 years is phenomenal. But it’s fair to say that he’s entering the final stretch of his career.
His influence at Madrid is already starting to wane and he’s not going to play 55 games a season anymore.
It also reflects poorly on United if they were to bend over backwards for a player who left them in his prime, achieved all that he could in the game, and then returned expecting the red carpet treatment during the onset of his gradual decline.
If united were spending £100m + on a player I'd rather it was Mbappe as he is just over half Ronaldo's age.— BoyWonderRashford 🐝 (@RedRashford19) June 18, 2017
Ronaldo’s buyout clause? It’s a cool €1 billion. Of course, the asking price is nowhere near that figure but even the €130-140 million range being quoted is extremely steep for a player whose inevitable decline is fast approaching.
United are well known for their deep pockets but even they would struggle to justify paying that fee for a 32-year-old on top of what will surely be exorbitant wages.
You can’t help but think that the money could be better spent on two or three excellent players or even one Kylian Mbappe whose full marketing potential is yet to be exploited.
Financially, Cristiano Ronaldo would be a nightmare to sign. Fee would be £100m - £150m and wage would be 350k - 400k no doubt.— La Carné (@FutbolSully) June 16, 2017
It’s a rather poorly kept secret that Jose Mourinho doesn’t get along entirely with Ronaldo and vice-versa which on the surface seems odd given that they’re the biggest names in Portuguese football over the last 15 years.
However, given the tacticians specific demands of his players and his emphasis on discipline and team work, it’s not entirely surprising that a star as big as Ronaldo wouldn’t have adhered to every instruction.
Mourinho’s tactics demand complete commitment to the cause and while the forward is a model professional in terms of his dedication to perform at his optimum levels, that can come in the way of doing a job for the team.
During his spell at Madrid, Mourinho grudgingly accepted Ronaldo’s role and set up the team to accommodate his ability in and around the penalty box.
Rumour has it that one of the reasons the former Manchester United No7 remained at the Bernabeu the last time he threatened to leave was because Mourinho was on his way out.
That’s not to say that the two are beyond working together but their relationship hasn’t been without incident and would be cause for consideration.
You may be wondering how is it that someone who scores the amount of goals that Ronaldo does isn’t needed at a side that has struggled to find the back of the net all last season.
But while he guarantees goals, he remains a luxury signing, capable of putting the finishing touches on an already fine-tuned team.
United however are far from being a fully functional unit. What they need at the moment are world class players, yes, but ones that will fit into and contribute to Mourinho’s tactics and set-up.
Ronaldo has never been that player, requiring teams to adjust to play to his strengths rather than the other way around.
As ludicrous as it sounds, at this moment in time, United would be much better served with Ivan Perisic on the left wing and Alvaro Morata up front rather than have a player, possibly on his way to a fifth Ballon d’Or, fill either of those positions.
It’s no secret that Ronaldo’s influence on Madrid’s play is diminishing. He’s still a central figure at the end of moves but is rarely involved in the build-up.
He’s re-invented himself as a lethal finisher and the plethora of creative players around him serve him well.
However, the club are under no illusions. He’s still the man getting the goals and he’s still their most marketable asset.
The consistency of scoring a minimum of 40 goals a season is reason enough to be held in such high regard but Ronaldo is so much more than that.
He’s a brand like no other. Off the pitch at least and in a commercial sense, Lionel Messi will always lie in his wake.
With all due respect to Ligue 1, it doesn’t boast the kind of intensity and competitiveness that’s abundant in the Premier League.
But that could work in Ronaldo’s favour. He can keep plugging away, scoring goal after goal, without having to operate in top gear whilst saving his best for the Champions League.
The European trophy continues to elude PSG who see Ronaldo as the perfect talisman to secure a first triumph for them and his fifth.
The French Football Federation try to afford Champions League competing sides enough time to prepare, scheduling their games on Friday when they have midweek European commitments.
The Ligue 1 giants also remain one of the few clubs capable of affording the Real Madrid superstar while Paris is home to a substantial Portuguese demographic – Cristiano would quite simply be king.
It’s surely no coincidence as well that PSG pulled out of the deal to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the day before the news of Ronaldo’s desire to leave Madrid broke.
Andrea Belotti has been the subject of much transfer speculation over the last month with Manchester United and AC Milan in particular courting the striker.
Jose Mourinho reportedly sees the 23-year-old as a back up in case United’s bid to sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid is unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Belotti has admitted to being an AC Milan fan and idolising former Rossoneri icon Andriy Shevchenko. The club are looking to sign him on loan with an option to buy.
The Italian striker scored 23 goals in Serie A last season with Torino, propelling them to a ninth place finish.
The video below profiles Belotti who has a €100 million buyout clause.
With the transfer window set to open next month, the frenetic nature of speculation has already begun.
Rumours are starting to gather pace and we take a look at the latest stories doing the rounds in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly already held talks with Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent over a possible move this summer according to the Daily Mail.
The Portuguese has informed Real Madrid that he would like to leave the club with his agent Jorge Mendes meeting with PSG to discuss a deal during the Champions League final in Cardiff.
SPORT360 VERDICT: If Ronaldo does leave this summer, PSG would be the most likely destination. However, in all probability, the 32-year-old lands a bumper new deal and all is well in Ronaldo land again.
If Manchester United can put together £50 million, they could sign Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier, the Telegraph reports.
Jose Mourinho is apparently keen on the Spurs man and sees him as a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Dier would fit the billing for Mourinho as a holding midfielder but the price tag could prove to be a stumbling block as would the task of convincing the English international to make the switch considering how Tottenham have been shaping up over the last couple of seasons.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has decided against Manchester City and Manchester United and has opted for a move to Chelsea instead, according to L’Equipe.
With the London club’s patience running out, the player and his entourage were spurred into action to agree on a move to Stamford Bridge.
The two clubs now need to agree a fee, with Chelsea reportedly offering up to €30 million (£26m) so far, with Monaco holding out for at least €45m (£39m).
SPORT360 VERDICT: Bakayoko would be a fine addition to the Premier League champions and would suit the system that Antonio Conte employs.